Friday, November 2, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday

Title: In November
Author/Illustrator: Cynthia Rylant/ Jill Kastner
Publisher/Date: Harcourt, Inc./ 2000
Genre/Audience: Fiction/Ages 4-7
Themes: Seasonal Changes, November, Senses, Poetic Language, Family, Nature

"In November, the earth is growing quiet. It is making its bed, a winter bed for flowers and small creatures. The bed is white and silent, and much life can hide beneath its blankets."


From Booklist - "... Poetic language and lovely oil paintings evoke the traditional and seasonal activities that occur in November. Families gather around the table for a Thanksgiving feast, cats snuggle together in the corner of the barn, "staying birds" bid farewell to "leaving birds" beginning their long journeys. Rylant's words are simple but evocative and filled with wonderful sensory images, similes, and metaphors: the bare November trees are "all sticks and bones . . . spreading their arms like dancers." The smell of November food "is an orange smell. A squash and a pumpkin smell." The verbal images are splendidly captured in Kastner's soft-edged, double-spread paintings, which are rendered in a palette of warm autumn colors and sepia tones. The rich illustrations, done in a painterly style with obvious brushstrokes and texture built up from thick layers of oil paint, are a perfect match for the text. This handsome book is sure to become a new fall favorite. Lauren Peterson; Copyright © American Library Association.

Why I Love This Book:
I love any book by Cynthia Rylant.  She has a way with words that makes me sit up and take notice.  She is my model and inspiration as I look my dream of being a writer in the eye.  November is here and all the nature and family-related aspects of the month are given lyrical time and attention.  Poetic prose allows for a close look at ordinary events that might otherwise be missed.  And the lovely paintings are the perfect complement to the text.

Rylant uses the repeating line "In November".  This is a terrific writing exercise.  Use the same line, create your own to repeat, even make it a class-collaboration and put it on display.

Research birds that migrate and "the staying birds".  Identify species for each category in your area.  How do "the staying birds" survive the winter?

Research hibernation.  The line that I want to know more about is: "Bees pile up in deep, earthy holes."

Share family Thanksgiving traditions.  Use the five senses to describe a favorite holiday food.

Take a nature walk in November.  How is the world changing from fall to winter?  Take notes.  Collect artifacts, such as acorns or colorful leaves.

For more links to Perfect Picture Books, a collection of bloggers who contribute at Susanna Leonard Hill’s site, click here.


  1. Sounds like a beautiful contemplative story for kids to think about what is happening as fall ends and winter begins. Liked your activities. Perfect choice. Also like Cynthia Rylant.

  2. Yay - a book for the season! Great pick.

  3. Great fall choice, Laura, and I have to agree about Rylant's lyrical word-skills!

  4. I love this book just from the cover! And I love Ms Rylant as well! Yay November!

  5. What a wonderful-sounding book -- dreamy, lyrical, evocative. Just the thing to read while snuggled in a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.

    Thank you!

  6. "I love any book by Cynthia Rylant" -- totally agree with that statement. She is wonderful. And, I love November so this book might be just about perfect!

  7. This sounds like a Fall classic. Cynthia fan here too.

  8. OK, I've got to meet Cynthia! I don't think I have read any of her work and I must fix that soon. Thanks for sharing this book. :)

  9. This sounds lovely, Laura! I, too, am a huge Cynthia Rylant fan, but I haven't seen this one. I'll have to search it out. It sounds perfect for this time of year. Thanks so much for adding it to our list!

  10. This is a wonderful book to share with young children. I love the lyrical quality...thanks for a great review. The resource and activity list is much appreciated...I would love to use this book during class visits. :)

  11. Laura, your book suggestion has made me hungry and wanting to snuggle with this book and a fuzzy blanket. I also want to check out the artwork.

  12. The opening is beautiful. The language you quoted is magical :-) I must read this!